"Grief does not change you. It reveals you."
~ John Green
In working for over two decades with clients with chronic pain I have come to know many things. One is that no one expected to be there-- no one expected to one day get hurt and be in pain and have that pain not go away and have that pain slowly erode everything they know about their lives. Their work, their finances, their relationships, their self-esteem, their health and yes, even their faith. So there is a LOT of loss in living with chronic pain. Sometimes folks try to brace against that loss. They try to batten down the hatches, build a wall, dig a mote and fill it with sharks and manta rays and such-- anything to keep from feeling the deep grief and loss about the things that the can't do anymore due to their pain. Or the things they lost due to their pain-- houses, cars, jobs, savings accounts and even marriages. And I get it. No one likes to have to feel pain. No one likes to have to face loss. The problem is that grief and loss won't be ignored. They are going to keep trying to push to the surface. They will scale any wall you build, cross any mote, slither in through the cracks. And if you don't find a way to feel the grief and let it go it is going to make your pain a LOT worse.
In my work as a therapist I can honestly say that it is never to late to grieve a loss. I have seen many people who start off thinking that "there's no point in getting into that, it was so long ago" or "I should be over this by now" or "I can't change it so why think about it?" But with support and encouragement these people have been able to do the important work of uncovering unprocessed grief that they have carried around for months or even years. And the results are remarkable. Letting go of grief can bring about profound changes in energy level, mood, openness to new relationships and even forgiveness of one's self and others. And it can even lessen your physical pain.
If you are carrying around unresolved grief, no matter what kind or how old it is, I invite you to think about starting to process that loss.
The following post has been excerpt from a blog by Alexandra Katehakis & Tom Bliss. Many thanks for their words of wisdom on letting go.
No one knows the hurt of heartbreak until they've experienced it. The gnashing pain of saying "good-bye" to a lover--when we know the relationship isn't working, when we have to leave in order to grow into our potential, when we've been so terribly betrayed that we can't hold a vision for healing, or when someone dies--is beyond comprehension until we live through it. Loss is so devastating that many people hold onto pain, resentment, or anger as a perverse way to stay in relationship with the one we've said "good-bye" to. Sometimes it even feels righteous to stay in anger, hurt, or upset--almost as though we can right the wrong if we dig in our heels. Yet over time, this stance leaves us embittered and stuck, hanging on for dear life so as not to feel the awful feelings of sorrow. Worse, that mental clinging precludes our moving on.
Grief, on the other hand, is an essential step in our progress forward. Grieving requires the ego and the recriminations to get out of the way so that we can become vulnerable and fully feel the loss of what once was. Without the full-bodied sensation of our grief and loss, we can never get past them. Letting go and grieving is a cleansing and healing process for all: we tear open our emotional prison and energetically release ourselves, and our former beloved, to move on.
DAILY HEALTHY ACTS
· If you're holding on to an old wound and haven't let yourself feel the loss, take time today to write about what keeps you invested.
· Free yourself for a good cry over your big losses.
· Have a small ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the loss of a loved one, whether it was a relational loss or literal loss. Light a candle in his or her name to free them, throw a rock into the ocean to symbolize an aspect of the relationship that needs to be let go, or plant some flowers so that your grief can blossom into something new.
While this kind of thing can sound weird or "hokey" in my experience we can really feel a lot better by creating some kind of ceremony to let go of things. Or talk to a counselor. Sharing grief is one way to lessen the burden.
Wishing you peace in your journey to heal your chronic pain,
Program Director, Restore Fx
Krista Jordan, Ph.D., ABPP